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The Servant

44 customer reviews

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(Dec 18, 2001)
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Winner of three British Academy Awards including Best Actor to Dirk Bogarde. In this landmark drama of class struggle and moral decay, a pampered playboy (James Fox) acquires an elegant townhouse complete with a dedicated man servant (Dirk Bogarde). But when the young man's fiancée (Wendy Craig) becomes suspicious of the servant's intentions, he and his "sister" (Sarah Miles) thrust the household into a sinister game where seduction is corruption and power becomes the most shocking desire of all. The Servant marked the first of three brilliant film collaborations between director Joseph Losey and playwright Harold Pinter, and was nominated for eight British Academy Awards including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Film, Best Cinematography and Best Screenplay.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Dirk Bogarde, Sarah Miles, Wendy Craig, James Fox, Catherine Lacey
  • Directors: Joseph Losey
  • Writers: Harold Pinter, Robin Maugham
  • Producers: Joseph Losey, Norman Priggen
  • Format: Black & White, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: December 18, 2001
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005R24B
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,118 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Servant" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By D. Hartley on January 12, 2004
Format: DVD
There are no axe murderers lurking in the closet, but Joseph Losey's decadent class-struggle allegory "The Servant" matches Polanski's "Repulsion" as a classic of psychological horror. Dirk Bogarde delivers a note perfect performance as the "manservant" hired by snobby playboy James Fox (in his screen debut) to help him settle into his new upscale London digs. It soon becomes apparent (to the viewer) that this butler has a little more on the agenda than just polishing silverware and dusting the mantle. Actors talk about giving the character "an inner life"-just watch Bogarde's facial expressions and see a craftsman at work! A young (and quite alluring) Sara Miles is memorable as Bogarde's "sister" who is hired as the maid. If you've seen "Wings Of The Dove" or "Days Of Heaven" you will likely figure things out early on, but you'll enjoy the ride all the same. The expressive chiaroscuro cinematography sets an increasingly claustrophobic mood as the story progresses (Watch for the clever use of convex mirrors to "trap" the images of the principal characters). By the way, if you are a fan of 1960's British folk music, you'll want to keep your eyes (and ears) peeled for a rare, unbilled (and all-too-brief) glimpse of legendary (and reclusive) guitarist Davey Graham, playing and singing (live-not dubbed!) in a scene where James Fox walks into a coffeehouse. The DVD is bare-bones, but picture and sound are excellent. A must-see.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Charles S. Tashiro on February 7, 2002
Format: DVD
At their best, Joseph Losey's films are as sleek and sexy as the cool jazz he uses in many of them. "The Servant," one of his best known films, is most famous as the first of the director's collaborations with playwright Harold Pinter. Its success rescued Losey from years of blacklisting and his disastrous experiences on a film he personally valued more, "Eva." The film is also famous for Dirk Bogarde's performance as the butler-you-love-to-hate, Hugo Barrett. A successful matinee idol, Bogarde insisted on appearing in a series of commercially risky, but artistically daring productions, of which "The Servant" is one of the first.
Like Kubrick's "Lolita," "The Servant" was made at a time when it was possible for filmmakers to flirt with previously forbidden topics (pedophilia in the first, sadomasochism in the second) as long as they suggested more than they showed. The indirection works to the advantage of both. "The Servant" is an insidious movie that works on your imagination far more effectively than an explicit exploration of the subject. The relationship between Hugo and his master Tony is never much more than a gradual, vaguely deepening dependency. That makes the action much more plausible and frightening. As Hugo slowly takes control of Tony's life, we watch in horrified fascination, desperate to stop it, but powerless to do so.
Much like Alfred Hitchcock, Losey's films exploit fear as much as desire, although that's where the similarities end. Hitchcock makes you nervous, but you always know the cause of the trouble, and you're ultimately brought safely home. Losey's films rarely locate their source of fear, and you're seldom let off the hook. Hitchcock alternates bravura suspense sequences with sophisticated comedy.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By David L Rattigan on October 19, 2003
Format: DVD
The social metaphors may be a little worn nowadays, but Joseph Losey's film has lost none of its drama and intensity.
Dirk Bogarde stars as the butler who responds to rather foppish architect James Fox's advertisement to find a servant. Enter Sarah Miles, and a complicated love triangle ensues. Order eventually descends into chaos as servant-master roles become blurred in this riveting allegory of social disintegration.
It is the sheer brilliance of the ensemble here that makes this film a true classic: Much of the credit must go to the skillful black-and-white photography of Douglas Slocombe, one of the most talented British cinematographers of all time. Stylistically, this is quintessential sixties British realism. Also noteworthy are John Dankworth's jazz-oriented score and Harold Pinter's screenplay. It cannot be denied, however, that the film stands or falls on the strength of the performances, and the cast here are on top form, especially Bogarde in perhaps his finest role.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J from NY VINE VOICE on November 24, 2004
Format: DVD
Losey's "The Servant" is a film you really have to stick with in order to get to the meat and potatoes. It's almost like two movies in one. It opens up innocently enough, with Dirk Bogarde (Hugo) coming to playboy Tony's (James Fox in a performance that oscillates between being mind numbingly annoying to heart rendingly pitiable) house, offering to be his servant. From there it will take the viewer awhile to understand just how sinister and depraved Bogarde's Hugo is--for a good part of the film he just seems to be a confused, buffoonish servant trying to do his job. From there things get really, really sick.

Co-dependency, class struggle, loneliness, alcoholism and finally madness dominate the house as Bogarde accomplishes a slick mastery of Tony's psyche and then his life. He gets the weak minded and wealthy playboy to cheat on his fiancee, and then takes advantage of the ruins his life is left in afterward. By the end of the film you know everything is screwed in a royal (no pun intended) way. Sickness and betrayal crawl from every frame of the last half an hour, and the transformation the film undergoes is unbelievably well done.

You really don't know who to sympathize with, since the only character with a single intent and purpose is Tony's fiancee who quickly flees when the situation essentially becomes an orgy of broken minds and hearts. This as good and creepily understated a film as Alfred Hitchcock ever made. A must see.
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